Krista’s ‘Brilliant Disguise’ Prompted Me in Multiple Ways

Happy St. Patrick’s Day,  blogger buds!

Hope the weekend treated you well and that all celebrations were what you wanted them to be. I kept busy with a family birthday party; compiling related blog articles into booklets to go along with a workshop in-the-works; communicating with Debbie at The Cover Collection–see my rave about it here–and getting this post together (while working from an iPad and a laptop—I never wanted that first desktop, lol).

I’m also preparing my share of a St. Patty’s Day school breakfast: a cheese, pepperoni and cracker tray, oatmeal-raisin-cranberry-almond bars and a coconut cake with awesome cream-cheese butter frosting. (Yum.)

The above are just a few of the reasons I want to retire from school. Who has time to work?

leprechaun-card1

Clip art courtesy of clipartsandcrafts.com

Today’s post was inspired by a WordPress prompt. I subscribe to them and every now and again like the topic enough to pull together a response. I also believe it’s a great way to connect with other bloggers and possibly grow one’s follower base. (How it works: Comments are always closed on prompts. Pingbacks are enabled; if you link to the prompt post on your blog, your post will appear in the list below the prompt.)

This one was entitled Brilliant Disguise. Krista suggested writing about a time someone really pulled the wool over your eyes. (And just b/c I’m a distracted disaster my brain immediately started playing Bruce Springsteen’s title track to the CD by the same name—do we still call them CDs in this download-driven world?—and my favorite off that collection: All That Heaven Will Allow. If you’ve never heard that song, you HAVE to. Then make sure you come back, lol.)

Here’s my story: We were on vacation with another family at one of my favorite places on the planet: East Hill Farm in New Hampshire. (Fans of the movie Dirty Dancing will relate; this place reminded me of Kellerman’s.) We’d been out earlier in the day and passed a Harley-Davidson dealership.

Hubby was into motorcycles then. (Just a hair of background: we’ve always promised to discuss spending upward of a certain amount of $$ before doing so.)

Long story short, hubby went out with his friend for a while that afternoon, and came back in time for ‘cocktails’ on the lawn. This man, who could never-ever get a fib past me—I can tell from the way his lips look against his teeth whenever he tries; no I can’t explain it—told me he had a surprise and that he’d just purchased a brand new Harley.

Since money-rich is something we are so not, lol, I probably stared at this mouth and teeth looking for the fib. Maybe I was so floored at his ‘news’ I missed it. His buddy sat next to him, nodding and confirming what hubby said. Finally convinced hubby was telling the truth, and beyond hurt that he’d go there, I ran off, fighting back tears, as a romance writer would say.

I can still see his buddy calling across that giant lawn, and hearing his voice almost in slow motion: “Joanna! He didn’t do it!”

Hubby followed, dug me out of our room and told me the truth. (Might have been the first and only time he called me ‘sweetheart’ too. I usually go by ‘Babe’ or ‘Joey.’ When he calls me ‘Joanna’ it’s not necessarily for a good reason.)

So that’s what Brilliant Disguise at WordPress prompted me to write. How about you? BTW, comments are closed on these prompts but pingbacks enable you to connect with other bloggers responses. So, if you choose to share your story, just post a link to your blog in the comments as well, and maybe even connect to WordPress.

You never know where that could lead you. I’m still not convinced, but my follower base supposedly increased by at least 400 after I connected with one a little while back. Next week, I’ll share some links to some great posts I came across this week, simply to keep this one from getting any longer.

Have a great day,

Joanna

Quick FlashBack: Why WordPress Rocks

Ten Reasons (Okay, Eleven) Why WordPress Rocks

It’s been a busy weekend, folks. So, since I originally thought this was running at fellow Liberty States Fiction Writer Nathan Rudy’s blog today–it ran on the first Wed of April instead–I figured I’ll do another catch-up thing and run it here. If you’re here for the first time, welcome and to you this is all new!

So I was hopping through the blogosphere, dealing with some technical blog-post issues when I realized it might do many well —including myself—to sing the praises of WordPress: my blogging software of choice (WP, from here on in).

Disclaimer: I’ve never used another type of blogging software. This article is based solely on my experience with WP and not intended to take away from other brands, if you will.

First, please allow me to credit multi-published author and LSFW secretary Caridad Pineiro for introducing me to WP. Several years ago, this ever-generous-and-amazingly-patient soul gave several hours of her very packed schedule to this ridiculously green newbie writer. Caridad did her best to show me how to create a site and add content that evening. I took notes but may as well have written in Polish, Slavic, Chinese or some other foreign language; I couldn’t make sense of my own notes.

That was in the fall of 2008. Took until the following spring before the ‘a-ha’ moment happened. (I wrote about it on my first post, I was so excited.) I was at least a year into the process before it all started making real sense.

I’ve been blogging with WordPress ever since. Back then, I learned first and foremost: write my posts in a word-processing application then copy and paste into my blogging software. (I’ve lost information and/or changes writing directly into the software. Plus, I have my own draft of the article on my hard drive and/or backed up otherwise. Although WordPress is most likely in no danger of this at all, I’ve read the horror stories of bloggers whose blogging companies shut down and all their posts lost.)

Okay, on to the reasons I’m very happy with WordPress:

(1) Support: (a) “Happiness Engineers” have always gotten back to me via email, usually within 24 hours of my query. Responses have always been helpful and subsequent questions always answered by the same HE; (b) tons of support articles and WordPress TV (video help) available with one click on ‘Help;’ (c) forum of fellow WP bloggers willing to chime in with their experiences on a given topic.

(2) A multitude of free themes designed to meet different blogging needs/likes. One click is all it takes to change the look and feel of your blog, and more custom options (i.e., headers) than I can share about. (This is great for someone like me who gets tired of the same look after a while.)

(3) Inexpensive domains ($24/year), though some folks have described the .me domain as ‘cheesy.’ (I’m still thinking about that one. My website costs a lot more than that to host.)

(4) Newsletter subscriptions of choice: I subscribe to fellow bloggers’ blogs and at least three of WP’s informational blogs. (The latter keep me updated on many things WordPress! J) I also subscribe to The Daily Post, “an experiment in blogging motivation from the folks atWordPress.com.” These lovely folks post blogging ideas and tips to help bloggers get the most out of their blogs. There are also daily and weekly post challenges, photo challenges—you name it. Each is delivered straight to my inbox.

(5) I LOVE this feature: number of comments, likes, etc feature posted at the top of my screen when I’m signed in to WP and reading mine or any other WP blog. Clicking on this lovely little number at the top shows me who “liked” and/or commented on my post. Best of all: this same feature shows responses to my comments at other WP blogs; this means I don’t have to remember where I commented in the event there was a response! Cool, right?

(6) Also at the top of my screen: access to a new post screen on the very WP site I’m visiting. If I’m inspired to write a post of my own, I don’t have to leave the article that inspired me! (For those of us who have the focus of a flea, this is a godsend. J)

(7) My favorite: Reblogging: An awesome feature recently re-introduced (and very similar to the PressThis! share button at the bottom of my post.

Here’s how it works:

I’m at someone’s blog and read an article that totally speaks to me. I hit reblog. I get the option of writing a little intro before hitting send. Now that write-up becomes my next post and is instantly delivered to my followers’ inbox as well. Easy-peasy promo for the fellow blogger and instant content for mine. Awesome, yes? (And on that note, check out the WordPress landing page. Freshly Pressed offers a page of thumbnails to a variety of blogs. Promo from the WP folks themselves to help get your name out there and drive traffic to your site. Ask social media maven Kristen Lamb what making Freshly Pressed did for her blog! Not sure what it takes to get picked but I’m hoping to get there one of these days!)

(8) Simple importing/exporting of content: more on that here.

(9) Maybe it’s coincidence, but seems like many of those making a name for themselves in the writing world (i.e., Kristen Lamb, Sean Platt, etc) recommend using WordPress. Honestly, I’ve yet to read different.

(10) This is the newest reason: badges for celebrating milestones. Cool and fun!

(11) Way more features, incentives and ideas that I’m by no means aware exist. BUT: go to WordPress.com and start looking around. Promise you’ll come across something that meets your needs.

So, there you have it. MHO of why WordPress is the way to go if you’re looking to start a blog or switch from the software you’re currently using. Now, the audience participation part: assuming you’re a blogger too, which software do you use? Are you happy with it? Why or why not? And as a blog reader, do you notice any difference between blogs hosted by different companies?

Again, I thank you, Nathan, for having me here! For those of you who liked what you read, won’t you please take a moment and help spread this content into cyberspace by clicking one of the share buttons below? Thanks for taking the time to read!

My thoughts on a great, romantic weekend read on Friday. Hope you stop in!

Have a wonderful day!

Joanna

Another Mash-Up: TEN Awesome Articles…

I put together this collection during the month of March. Thought I’d save them for a dry blog day! :D Check them out: a little of everything! Have a great day, and please take a moment to ‘share’ before you head on to your next virtual stop!

Friday: The Home Fries recipe I promised to fellow tweep @JTEllison

Now without further ado:

Beyond the Call: Face Your Fears!

Is Time Travel Possible? This one was just plain-old fun—and got me thinking on one of my favorite possibilities!

Mommy Moments: Snap Judgments—not just for mommies. All parents are guilty at some time during ‘the journey’!

Because this one turned me on to a very viable possibility: Author Terry O’Dell and her experience with NOOK First

Duolit’s Six Writing Outline Templates and Three Reasons to Use Them

Came across this gem as a result of my Discipline V. Control series!

Help for navigating Facebook’s Timeline

Answer all those necessary ‘WH’ questions and chances are you’ve laid the groundwork for your next story!

10 Super Awesome Insider Tips (for WordPress Users)

6 Reasons Why It’s Foolish Not to Self-Publish—Parts 1 & 2

Until next time,

Joanna

Blogging Etiquette–Faux Pas or Nah?

Happy Thursday all,

Not sure if sharing this is my best move, but an episode involving a comment I posted during a recent first-time visit to a blog inspired these thoughts. I came by said blog via a link in a loop; I’d never heard of the blog author or her guest but really liked the site.

Long story short, my comment included a link back to my blog. The post I linked to was so on-topic, you could read it in the URL. When I checked back at the site a while later, I noticed my comment had been ‘removed by the blog moderator/administer.’

Honestly, I was a bit taken aback. Yes, it was my first visit there, but I really wasn’t trying to be rude. Maybe I was excited to read content that reminded me of my own very similar post so I linked back to it, thinking it might be beneficial to someone else. BTW,  I have no problem with someone linking back to his/her blog from mine. (I might take exception to linking to content that I don’t believe family friendly, but that has yet to happen so I’ll deal with that on a case-by-case basis, should the occasion arise!)

I thought about why so many of us blog in the first place: to establish relationships with people and to create a presence online. Maybe I’m too steeped in social media etiquette as per Kristen Lamb’s teachings, whose we-are-not-alone approach encourages us to be out there as much as we can, supporting and promoting others, and when appropriate, ourselves too. (Perhaps I’ve missed something? IDK, someone would have to write something ridiculously offensive for me to consider removing any comment, or even editing it. Cyberspace—particularly the blogosphere—is so vast, I believe there is room for all of us. A final thought on the sharing part: perhaps anyone who clicked on my link might have found my content helpful. And said link-clicker would have already read the blog where comment was posted, so I don’t believe I was taking away from the original blogger.)

So what do you all think about this? Did I err or break a rule of blog etiquette of which I am unaware? Please feel free to comment away (email me privately, DM me on Twitter or send me a message via Facebook) and enlighten me. I would love some other thoughts on this—really!

Thanks, TTFN and a great day to all,

Joanna

Just Video Games or A Social Network?

Good day, everyone!

Since we talked about Christmas on Tuesday, let’s finish this week’s blog-set with one related to the same holiday. Then, we’ll put Christmas to rest—until after Thanksgiving (or maybe July ;)).

My 13-year-old son must have revised his 2011 Christmas list six times (and not for editing purposes, I can assure you.) Can’t tell you how many times I told him this particular holiday isn’t “mail order.” Kids, however, will be kids and this one was true to form.

He waxed and waned between a new gaming system (PS-3) and several other pricey game-related items (for X-box 360, which he has). He finally settled on the former as he handed over the final draft of his list.

       https://gustavus.edu/gts/Xbox_360

When hubby and I got to the gaming store and looked over the list, I noticed at least one-third of the PS-3 items he wanted he’d recently acquired for X-box, at the tune of $150-200. Seriously? After I asked the young guy behind the counter some questions why one system would be favorable over another, a judgment call was definitely in order. We picked up games and acc  essories for his X-Box 360 that were on his list as back-up, plus some other goodies Mom thought he could use: a robe, NY Giants’ hoodie—you know, essentials. ;)

   http://us.playstation.com/ps3/

FYI: The big draw for PS-3 is said to be free online gaming, but Sony had been hacked earlier that year and was down for three months. X-box 360 requires X-box Points to play online and must be purchased separately, at the tune of roughly $8/month or $60/year, a significant savings if you’re willing to put the bigger cost up front. (BTW, video games are no longer an individual activity. Kids play online with each other, within the online framework of the gaming system they have. They invite each other to virtual “parties” or play football games against each other, work as teams on other games, etc.)

Most of my son’s friends have X-Box 360; the system, so far, seems to have the staying power of Windows XP. In other words, it’s been around and most likely will remain popular a while longer. (Dang! When did I learn all this stuff? I hated computers when they first arrived on the scene. Hubby bought me my first one, lol. )

Fast-forward to Christmas morning: To say I had a very disappointed child on my hands is an understatement. Folks, we had DRAMA, and all that talk about the real meaning of Christmas, expectations, mail order, etc wasn’t going anywhere. (Thank goodness our visit to church changed his mood, as did having Christmas at our house.)

Of course I questioned the choices hubby and I made as a different aspect of the potential problem hit me: Were we cutting our son off from the social network his games provide by not having gotten the new system? I decided to delve further by asking my son some questions. Turns out, only one friend got PS-3 and plays X-Box along with the other “core crowd” of gaming buddies. (Sounds like I’m not the only parent who thinks this way.)

I’m grateful to report things worked out. (Somehow they always do.) By evening, after the festivities wound down, my son came to me and said, “I feel like a fool about the way I acted this morning.” (And, he was glad he didn’t get the PS-3; the next day, he stood in line for at least thirty minutes and came home with an I-phone, which he bought with his Christmas money. He did need a new communication device). Even as I wrote this, he rethought his behavior and vocalized his feelings on having missed looking forward to opening gifts because of his attitude. I found it especially saddening on Christmas day to know how upset he was. Besides it being every kid’s favorite holiday, this same child pretty much decorated the house and did all the wrapping (save his and his brother’s presents; momma handled those). He brought the festive look to our home and saved me tons of work. But, if he learned something from the experience that will stick with him, then I suppose the rough start to the biggest day of the year was worth it.

One more notice: He recently played on a friend’s PS-3 and decided he didn’t like it after all. Then he started talking about what he wants for Christmas 2012. (That’s when the hand went up—I was, after all, watching the NY Giants’ Wild Card game and was in no position to consider the next holiday season, lol.)

So what are your takes on this subject? Have you ever had to make that call that you know would so disappoint someone? What did you do? How did the situation turn out?

Have a wonderful weekend–it’s an extended one for us–and ttys! Go Giants (and Packers)!

Joanna

The Potential Power of Twitter–Part 4–What to Tweet

Good day, blogger friends! Hope all is well with all of you today! I had such a nice time at online friend and fellow author’s blog Steph Burkhart. Love when someone puts a fun spin on blogging. (We did the Sunday football theme. If you missed it, feel free to check it out here!)

Last week I followed up my Potential Power of Twitter posts (Part 1 and Part 2) by exploring concerns that came up in the comments. Since I got longer-winded than I’d anticipated (moi???) about the subject of getting followers, I decided to talk about the other issue separately. (Interestingly enough, the same topic came up at Authors Promoting Authors, where I blogged about things I’d do differently with the knowledge I’ve gained as a published author. I made mention of Twitter, and getting into it long before I did.)

For purposes of this discussion, I’ll assume you’re already following at least a few people. (At this point, it doesn’t matter if you’re being followed by them or anyone else—unless you want to send a direct message, which you can only do when you’re following each other.)

So here is Concern Two: “Now I just have to think of something fun to share and tweet my heart out!” and “For me it’s not joining the site, that was easy; it’s much harder to actually tweet or post some thing interesting.”

This may be the biggest issue holding folks back when it comes to any form of social media. (That includes Facebook, blogging and most likely, Linked In, Google+, etc.) What do I say and how do I say it in 140 characters or less—including hashtags when applicable? (Yes, people—those little #s can serve quite the big function.)

This article is one example of what I have to share via my blog. (You all inspired it with your comments, thank you very much!) Believe me, it helps solidify what I know simply by putting into words what I’ve learned. As per writing, posting or tweeting ‘something interesting’ try to remember this is about you and allowing fellow tweeps (or FB friends) an opportunity to know you. The more you’re out there, the more you’ll get to know others and the comments will start to feel as though they have a flow.

Think in terms of hanging out at a party w/a crowd of people. Some you know well. Some are acquaintances. Others you’ve yet to meet. Chances are—especially if you’re a social butterfly to begin with—you’re listening to the conversations around you and maybe saying something on topic.  (That would be me.)

Translation: Scroll through the different columns you’ve created. Read comments and respond to those that automatically generate an answer or a comment, pretty much the same way you’d listen to those around you and say something on topic. Or start one of your own! Keep in mind too: when you respond to a tweet that shows up on any one of your hashtag columns (i.e., #myWANA, #booklovers, etc), you’ve sort of introduced yourself!

Retweeting (RT) someone else’s tweet is also a way of sparking interaction. Twitter-folk love RTs and often respond with a tweet of thanks. Of course, a ‘You’re welcome’ tweet can include a comment about what you liked or some other start to a conversation. See how it’s not so hard to know what to say? (Don’t miss any responses by keeping your ‘Mentions’ column open at all times.)

Okay, two more things and we’re done. (Somehow it always comes back to Kristen Lamb, lol.)

Kristen teaches three important concepts in her talks on Twitter, but again, these apply to pretty globally to any social media venue.)

(1) Use your tweets to edify and promote others.

(2) Reciprocate kindnesses (i.e., RT or promote a friend’s blog or a great article you’ve read, as in click on one or more of those lovely little share buttons at the bottom of many blogs!).

(3) Tweet about anything that impacts your world that you believe is relatable to someone else (i.e., a great recipe you’ve come across, an amazing book you read; something someone did that’s awesome or touched you in a special way). When my favorite cat died recently, I tweeted about how devastated I was. The support from my online friends—and even folks I’d never had contact with before—was amazing. I shared this one on Facebook, but I’ll never forget the early Sunday morning I went down to the basement to exercise and saw our smaller fish’s tail sticking out of the bigger goldfish’s mouth. (Bleh!) My family was asleep so I vented to my FB friends, lol.  (I do suggest limiting or even skipping the small talk-tweets—i.e., Going to have a cup of coffee now.  Just MHO, but I’m not sure what to really say to those. Now, if you’ve just accomplished a goal and are feeling proud—i.e., Just finished first draft of chapter 3; ice cream break…yea!—tweet away! Chances are, someone will give you a virtual pat on the back!)

So, have I equipped you with what you need to go forth and tweet? Please let me know. Keep the questions and comments coming; you inspire me and help me think of things to say myself! (Now you understand why Kristen Lamb included the phrase We Are Not Alone in the title of her and her awesome book on writers and social media! Go get a copy!)

Until next time,

Joanna

Worth the Time: Awesome Blog Reads

Happy Friday, writers, readers and friends! Are you geared up for fall with October in full force? (I’m still working on getting my fall decor out. A year just flies!)

Keeping things simple today and sharing some of the great posts I happened across this week and last. (As always, I’m catching up.) Hope any and/or all of these posts speak to you as they did to me. And if you liked what you read, take a moment and click a share button (where applicable) or give a shout-out at one of your own social media platforms. I promise, that blog author will be nothing but grateful! Finally, if you comment here on what you liked, I’ll do my best to find more of the same or related posts.

Here goes:

Mash-up articles for Friday: 10/07

Meredith Bell: What Do You Have a Knack For?

Scott Hunter’s Blog: The Pathway to Effectiveness

Scott Hunter’s Blog: The Real Meaning of Cause and Effect

Because this is so appropriate for a Friday: YA Author Julie Musil’s Friday Night Rewind

Real-life Romance finds its way into Jane Richardson’s Edinburgh Fog

For those wanting to go it alone in the self-pub world: Keeping up with e-book technology by Jenn Talty

Jami Gold answers this very valid question: So Why Do Guest Posts?

Merry Farmer sings the Praises of the Unlikely Hero

Looking to guest post? Jon Konrath may want your write up!

Christine Warner: Reasons to Slow Down (Just a Little Bit)

Why Read Bad Fiction? Mark Landen has a few good reasons!

Feel free to add any of your own. Have a great weekend!

Joanna

The Potential Power of Twitter–Part 3–Gaining Followers

Happy Wednesday, friends. Hope all is well this midweek! Only two days until Friday (woot!) the weekend and a nice listing of blogposts I found very interesting over the past two weeks.

Wow. My recent Twitter-related posts (Part 1 and Part 2) started out as a one-shot deal. My chattiness made it two and now comments from you folks inspired at least two follow-up articles. (Thanks for saving me the trouble of thinking up something else, lol. ;))

At this point, two issues stood out. Today I’ll explore the first:

How do I get others to follow me?

Queen of awesome and social media Kristen Lamb suggests beginning as a follower and approaching this topic with a heart of service, thinking more about how to give to others and paying forward vs. the standpoint of ‘what’s in it for me?’ One way she does this is so simple: she retweets (RT) others’ blog posts as part of her time on Twitter. (She has a huge following so every message she tweets or RTs has the potential to be seen by thousands.) She also encourages, congratulates and supports others. She firmly believes social media is a way to build relationships and, in doing so, your brand evolves almost as a secondary result of your interactions online. (Check out her posts every Tuesday. They’re excellent.)

So how do you do this? Your best bet is to simply start following others whose tweets interest you (many will reciprocate; others often follow later, after you’ve begun responding to others’ tweets). Twitter will suggest people for you to follow. By using Tweetdeck and creating columns for ‘Tweetdeck suggests’ and ‘new followers you can keep that info sorted. And back to Kristen Lamb: she does Twitter-related articles every Tuesday and dedicates a big part of WANA to Twitter. (It’s her favorite social media platform. She made sense of it to me.) I’ve also come across helpful YouTube tutorials on how to use Tweetdeck and Hootsuite.

Oh yes: every Friday, you’ll find #FF (Follow Friday) in full swing. In this column, people make suggestions on who to follow. It’s a great way to promote your newest or best tweeps and gets your name out there, too! (There is a LOT of activity every Friday. That screen usually moves so fast, I can’t read it, lol.)

I realize this is confusing and/or overwhelming to some, but please understand, folks: it took me a long time to get this. Think what made Twitter initially so hard to grasp–especially using Tweetdeck–was that I expected it to be so much more complicated! (What’s really crazy is how ridiculously simple this all is—but you have to download Tweetdeck and use it to make sense of all this information.)

Concern Two: “Now I just have to think of something fun to share and tweet my heart out!” and “For me it’s not joining the site, that was easy; it’s much harder to actually tweet or post some thing interesting.”

We’ll dive into this one next Wednesday!

Don’t forget: Look for the a round-up of the some great blog posts by others this upcoming Friday. And on Sunday, please take a minute to stop by Steph Burkhart’s blog and show your team spirit. We’re having fun with football themes!

Thanks for your time and have a great day,

Joanna

Potential Power of Twitter–Part 2

Good day, friends!

Last time I shared a story about the time some friends and I wound up lost while driving to a women’s retreat. (You can read that post here.) Today I’ll tie that into:

The Incredible, Potential Power of Twitter

Yes, I wrote that title—and mean it. Would never have happened a year ago, I promise. I couldn’t be bothered being a part of this monster of a social media tool, nor did I have any desire to learn about it so that I could be. Then I happened on Kristen Lamb’s blog. Then I cracked and bought her bestseller, We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media—WANA, from here on and the best $4.99 I’ve spent in some time. Read my thoughts on it here. Those thoughts got me a request to write a short article for Author-Me’s monthly newsletter

Knock-knock: Are you starting to get an idea of how this works?

These days you’ll find me hanging out here, on Facebook and yes, Twitter. Do I absolutely love any of Kristen’s recommended three? Not necessarily, but I love people and enjoy making online friends and connections and learning more than I ever imagined I could via all the blogs I find via the three venues. (Kristen’s weekly mash-up of awesomeness—a.k.a. blogs—could keep me reading all day, and since January of this year, I swear I’ve gained an education in social media and self-publishing from blogs alone. And all for the cost of what? Internet access and whatever time I’m willing to put into it.)

Sorry. Sidetracked. Back to business!

So what sets Twitter apart? Doesn’t take that much time as a tweeter to figure out how powerful a tool this is. I will, however, state it’s much easier to see the potential once you’re using Tweetdeck, Hootsuite or similar personal browser created to organize and manage the hundreds and probably thousands of tweets headed your way alone on a daily basis. (Depends on your following as well as your ability to create/maintain online relationships. Oh, and don’t expect to be able to read and/or respond to every message once you’re ‘established.’ Twitter interactions happen pretty much in a ‘real time’ manner: about ninety minutes (assuming you’re using a personal browser and based on how busy a particular column is—more about this later) before you ‘missed’ a tweet, or more realistically, a slew of them.

Okay, writing about this is getting bigger than I can handle, so I’ll stick to what, IMHO, are the keys to what makes Twitter so amazing: simplicity and inherent exponential potential.

Simplicity: One-hundred-forty characters to get a thought across AND get it onto the screens of x-number of fellow tweeps. At first I thought, what’s the point of just that tiny window? Now I realize a side benefit: teaching me to edit and keep what I say succinct and direct. (Only the most important words here.)

Inherent exponential potential: Concept=simple. Potential power: beyond believable and in need of a few sentences to do it justice. When you tweet, write your message but spare some characters. You’ll use those spaces to create a hashtag: the pound sign/symbol (#) followed by pretty much any word you want. Think in terms of tags or keywords.

Example: If I’m tweeting about US Open tennis, I’ll add #usopen, #tennis, #rafaelnadal or something along those lines. The Twitter monster makes sure that anyone who has a Tweetdeck column dedicated to any or all of those (or similar) hashtags will see my tweet. Now do you get an idea of how many potential people you can reach with only one-hundred-forty characters? (And that doesn’t include retweets, folks—messages you ‘repeat’ to all your followers with a single click.) Honestly, I am boggled—better yet: flum-gubbered—every time I think about this.

I’ll stop here—think I overwhelmed myself—before I give you too much to take in. (Something tells me I’ll be exploring this topic again.) Please feel free to shoot out questions: here, or at my Facebook and/or Twitter pages.

Don’t forget: A critique of up to 10 pages of your work-in-progress or completed manuscript is still up for grabs at the end of this week. Leave a comment for your chance to win!

Until next time,

Joanna

Potential Power of Twitter–Part 1

“Joanna, you have a story for everything!”

Those of you who know me or have been around my blog-block before have already heard/read that quote: what a former co-worker told me years ago, way before I had any clue I’d be a writer. She was right. No matter the topic, I had some related account of a cousin, television show or life experience of my own. (I was new to the work-force then. Imagine how many more stories I have now! :D)

These days my kids and their friends roll their eyes and look at each other when they make some random comment then realize they just triggered my retelling of: “Another story.”

Oh, God. She’s about to do it again…Hang in there: I’m going somewhere with this. (Pinky swear…)

And yes, I changed the names in the interest of privacy!

Years ago I attended a women’s retreat. The drive should have taken about three hours from start to finish. I drove, accompanied by two women. Sally was at least twenty years older than I; Melanie might have been ten years younger (and a bit of a nervous type).

With written directions and my cell phone in hand (okay it was a dino-phone), we took off on the interstate, excited to be away from everyone for a couple of days. We took exit #13—just like the paper said—and wound up spending the next three hours seriously lost. (All we knew was we were in God’s country—somewhere—with not much more to go on but trees and two-lane roads. We later learned the directions didn’t specify we were supposed to take exit #13 AFTER we crossed over into the next state—kind of an important detail…).

Cell-phone reception wasn’t what it is today, so my dino-phone was pretty useless. We happened on at least one hotel and asked for directions. Those turned out as helpful as the phone. Sally and I found much humor in the situation; figured we’d get there eventually. Melanie later told us she was flipping out in the back seat while Sally and I just laughed. (We had no idea how upset with us she was until the next day, when she finally told us.)

We had plenty of gas and a sturdy vehicle; no need to panic. We weren’t however, any closer to where we needed to be, nor did we have a clue how to get there. We stopped for directions again. And again. And probably a time after that. Every time we realized we were lost—again!—Sally and I laughed. Melanie got more anxious.

We finally made it to some town and stopped a man who happened to be walking by. I don’t remember exactly what he said, but when he opened his sentence exactly the same way as had so many of those we asked for directions before him, Sally and I looked at each other and fell apart laughing. We couldn’t stop.

Once Sally and I could talk, we apologized and explained why we cracked up the way we did; in no way did we intend any offense. He assured us none was taken. “I have a son with schizophrenia. Nothing you can say can upset me. I’ll get you where you need to go.”

We promised to pray for him and his son.

Don’t you know? That man’s directions got us to our destination, six hours after we started out.

The following Sunday, the women who’d gone on the retreat were called to share some of their experiences relative to the previous weekend. Sally, Melanie and I shared out ‘lost’ story, enjoying very much the collective chuckles of the congregation as we did so.

Then we mentioned the man who finally put us on the correct road to our destination, his son and our promise to pray for them and their family.

As a church we prayed together. Then I thought about how individuals might go home and pray for them too, and how they might ask someone else to pray, and those folks might ask someone else to pray, and so on and so on—until more people than any of us could imagine are praying for this gentleman and his schizophrenic son. For all any of us knows, people could still remember him or the story and be praying for him today. My retelling of this story serves as a reminder to do so for me and may incline others to do so as well.

And somehow, all of brings to mind the incredible, potential power of Twitter.

Just a reminder: A critique of up to 10 pages of your work-in-progress or completed manuscript is still up for grabs at the end of this week. Leave a comment for your chance to win!

More next time, as in Wednesday. ;)

See you then!

Joanna